One of the most interesting parts about working in property is getting to nose around other peoples’ homes; whether it be to draw inspiration or at the other end of the spectrum, how not to live. We interviewed Charles Sampson, director of Emphasis Inventories to find out the nitty gritty of being an inventory clerk in the London Rental Market and to get some tips for landlords and tenants.
How many inventories do you carry out a month?
Approximately 600 a month, but we are always looking to do more.
Your inventory clerks are always very happy, you must instil a happy work culture?
We do try to make a great working environment. Things don’t always go smoothly with bookings, so we are always available at the office to offer advice or help to any of our team. We are all involved in a profit share scheme, so all have a vested interest in making the company the best it can be.
What has been the nicest property your inventory clerks have conducted an inventory for?
We work all over London Surrey and Cambridge, there are obviously some very prestigious addresses in London, but my personal favourite was a 10 bedroom mansion house in Cobham which was built to a very high standard and was often rented out to feature in mainstream feature films.
Any obscure location requests for inventories?
We also do commercial inventories, so have done some interesting pubs, hotels, and shops, but we have also done an inventory on a house on an island in the middle of the Thames, accessed by boat.
Are there any celebrity properties you have performed inventories at?
I like to think that our reports are some of the best in the business and as a result we have attracted a lot of high end clients and celebrities. Not really one to name drop but we did a recent inventory on a 15 bedroom house in Hampstead for a young chart topping singer and his entourage.
From an inventory perspective, how would you recommend landlords dress their properties for tenancy?
I guess it depends on the market they are trying to attract; a high-end property would need a high-quality finish to attract the maximum yield, whereas this may not be cost effective for a property which might be suitable for multiple sharers.
What’s your number one piece of advice for tenants to avoid hefty deductions off their security deposits?
Take care of the property!
Cleaning causes a lot of issues – I would always recommend the tenant uses a cleaning company recommended by the managing agent, this way if the cleaning is not suitable the tenant does not need to get involved – the agent can ask the cleaner to return to amend anything.
You make recommendations on wear and tear, how do you go about measuring this?
All our clerks are trained in-house by our training team and members of the AIIC (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks) we adhere to strict standards. We also have a department who constantly assess our clerk’s quality and standards and keep everyone within regulations.
What areas of a property do you find wear and tear is generally located?
Usually in high traffic areas such as the entrance hall walls or the walk way area to the floor.
What was the funniest items one of your clerks can remember finding in a property?
I found an urn with someone’s grandmother’s ashes inside, it was in a kitchen unit. We took a ride through London on my moped back to the agency, so they could be reunited.
As inventory clerks, do you find yourself overanalysing your own property for damage?
I’d never cleaned my washing machine detergent drawer before doing this job!
How can you tell if a property is professionally cleaned or not?
This is one of the trickiest areas to this job as cleaning companies work to different standards and people often try to find a cheap deal online (you often get what you pay for) and even if you get a professional clean it is not always to a professional standard. We have been in business for over 9 years now and it takes experience to get this right.
What makes Emphasis inventories stand out from the rest of the competition?
We really care about what we do. All our clerks want to work for the best inventory company out there and put every effort into what they do, our office team work hard to make things run as smooth as they can, our typing team work hard to get the reports back to us in time and our proof readers do a great job in making sure everything is of the highest quality
What is the busiest time of year for you?
Our work almost triples during the summer months, we constantly analyse our figures to maximise capacity for our clients. In the summer months, we often do over 70 reports per day
In your experience, what pieces of furniture generally suffer the most damage during tenancy?
Hmm… I guess this would be the bed – I wonder why??